Terrorism in China? Police arrest male suspect linked to the blasts that killed at least seven people and left buildings damaged across county in Guangxi
By Mimi Lau in Guangzhou
South China Morning Post
Bombs hidden in courier parcels delivered to various locations across a county in Guangxi province exploded yesterday, killing at least seven and injuring dozens ahead of the seven-day National Day holiday.
The blasts occurred at the seat of Liucheng county, in the city of Liuzhou, and its surrounding areas, with the first bang heard at around 3.50pm, state media Xinhua reported. Five people died at the scene.
Local police said they had launched a criminal investigation and identified a 33-year-old male suspect, surnamed Wei, from Dapu township. The blasts were triggered by explosive devices hidden in express delivery packages, police said.
Nanguo Zaobao reported that Wei had since been arrested.
There were at least 17 blasts, media reports said, with targets of attack including the Dapu township government office, supermarkets, malls, a hospital, prison, bus terminal, an animal husbandry staff dormitory and a centre for infectious disease and prevention.
Explosions also occurred in other areas around Liuzhou, the media said, citing the city’s public security department.
More than 50 people were injured in the blasts and two people missing, but the authorities had ruled out a terrorist attack, China National Radio reported, citing police information.
On Dapu’s Dongcheng Road – one of the blast sites – part of a building had collapsed. Nearby vehicles were also damaged.
“I was sitting in my shop when I heard a sudden loud bang. I was in shock … My hair was flying in the air from the shock waves,” said Li Acheng, 30, owner of a fruit store 350 metres from the collapsed building.
“Some windows in my shop broke. I walked outside to see what had happened and was almost hit by a falling window from the third floor.
“I saw half of a building nearby collapse.
“We were all very shocked and thought it might be an act of terrorism. All shops were closed and the town is under curfew with police guarding every street … It was very scary with so many attacks in just over an hour.”
Li and his family left the town for a nearby village, fearing further attacks.
Pictures online showed injured victims, damaged buildings, and wrecked vehicles.
A witness told Thepaper.cn that she heard sounds of explosions while shopping at a mall for electrical appliances.
She remained traumatised by the shock of the blasts even hours later, she told the online news portal, and ran to a nearby field beside a river bank, refusing to return home.
Speaking at a press conference, Liucheng county public security political commissar Cai Tianlai said a total of 60 suspicious courier parcels had since been identified after reports from members of the public.
The suspicious parcels were being guarded, pending processing by a bomb squad, according to China News Service.
Local authorities had activated their emergency response mechanism and the local safety administration had sent out an emergency alert, saying the series of explosions had been triggered by parcel bombs and warning the public not to open parcels, Nanguo Zaobao reported.
A series of explosions from mail parcels have killed seven people and injured 51 others in southern China.
Local media reports said there were 13 explosions at various locations in the city of Liuzhou, in Guangxi Province.
The blasts occurred throughout the afternoon, upturning cars and causing part of a large building to collapse.
A local government building, a prison, a hospital and a bus stop were among the areas targeted.
Images posted online by social media users show parts of a building collapsed and cars upturned by the impact.
Authorities confirmed the blasts were from courier-delivered parcels, and issued a public safety alert, warning residents not to open packages.
“The public security department has quickly started to work and has already determined it was a criminal case,” local police said, according to Xinhua state media agency.
Police arrested a “preliminary suspect” who was named as M. Wei, 33, and who lived in the town of Dapu in the county.
Guangxi has not traditionally been one of the China’s restive provinces.
The blasts were on the eve of China’s national day, which begins a seven-day public holiday.
In recent years, China has grappled with a spate of violent knife and bomb attacks targeting markets and train stations, particularly in the country’s west.
Explosives are relatively easy to come by, as they find wide use in China’s large mining industry.